I Didn’t See This Coming!

I’m back! I’m sure that many of you who are used to receiving my Monday Morning Blog wondered what happened to me the month of April. I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to explain, but I was completely unprepared for the events that knocked me down so fast and hard. I didn’t have any warning myself.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed me for a while, you will remember that on Christmas Day I tripped on a rug and landed head first on a wooden chest. So I started 2017 with 5 staples in my head, a concussion, and a constant ringing in my ears. I wrote about that experience on January 9 in the blog post 8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections, when one of the opening sentences was, “You know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps.” And the next week in, What If You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye I wrote, “I don’t remember ever having an accident like that before.”

I did not see that accident coming or the length of time it would take to recover from the concussion. By February, I had come to terms with the fact that I would probably live the rest of my life with the ringing in my ears as an array of doctors told me there was probably no hope it would ever go away. Many people told me their stories of living with this distraction and all the many cures, but I am an easily distracted person so I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to overcome, but with the Lord’s help, I will not be shaken.

Then I started feeling bad the beginning of March in a part of my body unrelated to the concussion—my lower stomach, from my navel down. After several weeks, it got worse so I started the round of doctors, ending up at an urologist who did a CT scan revealing I had kidney stones and gallbladder stones, but he was sure my pain was coming from one kidney stone that looked to be lodged in the top of my bladder. He sent me home for the weekend to drink gallons of water and lemonade, but nothing had changed by the time his office called to check with me on Monday, the last Monday in March and the day of my last blog post to you.

Two days later, on Wednesday at 6:30 AM I was being prepped for surgery to remove what we all thought was one stuck kidney stone. I told everyone I would be back in my office Thursday, including my publisher as we were working on the cover for my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Everyone I knew who had ever had kidney stones assured me by Wednesday night I would be feeling great!

Well I wasn’t feeling great. I opened my eyes after surgery and felt twenty times worse! What?! I cried I was so disappointed and one of the nurses said, “Who told you that you were going to feel better?” All my Facebook friends, and I just assumed it would be an easy surgery. Wrong!!!

It turns out I had “dozens” of small stones stuck in both ureters—the tubes that come out of your kidneys. Yes you read right, I had been walking around with dozens of stones!!! So that meant cameras, wires, surgical tools all had invaded both ureters to scrape out the dozens of stones, as well as removing any left in my kidneys. I came home with stints in both ureters, excruciating cramps and pain, and was knocked flat on my back for weeks.

As many of you know I’ve had breast cancer surgery three times, so I am not a wimp and I have a very high threshold for pain, which is how I went so long with all these stones; but I was in agony after this surgery. The recovery has been so much slower than I could have ever expected. There were times when I couldn’t even pray except to groan, which the Bible tells me the Holy Spirit interpreted those groans to God for me.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Analysis of the stones showed the cause was a medication I was taking for a neurological condition, so in the midst of all this, I had to transition off those meds and onto a different one that made me nauseated, dizzy, and knocked me back down again.

So that’s where I’ve been this past month. But I made it back to church today and once we get these medications figured out, I pray the rest of the year will be better.

Points to Ponder

One Sunday morning, I was sobbing in pain and my husband asked what could he ask the church to pray for during their time of “Praise, Prayer, and Share.” The only thing I could say was, “Hope.” But I told him don’t say that or people will think my faith if faltering, but what I meant was hope that I was going to wake up one morning and feel better. I think he asked for prayer that there would be a turn for the better in my recovery.

He came home from church that morning with a gift bag from a sweet woman who serves our church by sending get well cards and gifts when a parishioner is ill. She had no idea of my plea for hope. In the bag was this cup!

Interestingly, the day before surgery I had turned into Crosswalk.com, who I write for regularly, a blog 10 Ways Not to Help a Suffer. Crosswalk posted that blog exactly one week after surgery. The blog talks about things not to do when someone you know is suffering, with the corresponding ten ways to help someone suffering. My church family, small group, and small mountain community were the example of everything to do to help someone. They showed up at the door with meals, sent cards, called faithfully, and prayed continually. As I walked into church today, I was greeted over and over by “It’s so good to see you back and I was praying for you!”

My next article assigned by Crosswalk is “How to Remain Hopeful When the Pain Won’t Stop.” I’ll let you know when that posts because I will share more of what kept me going and hopeful this past month.

Two days after surgery, the copy edits from my publisher arrived for me to review. It would be my last chance to make any changes or corrections and to review the changes their editors had made. When I let the product manager for Mentoring for All Seasons know about the surgery and it would probably be a few weeks before I could look at these, she quickly extended the April 21 deadline to today May 1. During the month, she checked in to see how I was doing, and often I was miserable. She continually sent me prayers along with this sweet graphic.

So while the health issues this year caught me completely by surprise, I know that God is never caught off guard and He sustains me. The word He gave me in both the concussion and the recovery from this surgery is: I will not be shaken.

God willing, I will be back next week. Thank you for those who prayed for me that knew about this, and the many Facebook friends who let me know their prayers and thoughts were with me. I was so blessed to see all of your comments when I felt up to checking in on Facebook. I pray if any of you are suffering, you also know that our hope is in the Lord who never leaves our side.

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Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30

It was greeting time at church, a friend hugged me and said, “Thank you for standing in the gap!” She was leading the Women’s Bible study reading my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. I wanted to say back, and also say to everyone who has left similar comments on my Facebook timeline when I’ve taken a stand for God on difficult or controversial issues—“Join me.” God calls all Christians to be His hands and feet on earth. That’s why we’re here. Why aren’t we ALL standing in the gap? Why are some silent or taking a noncommittal position at a time in history like our parents and we have never seen before— choosing between two radically different Americas!

Morals versus Politics

A few, not just the liberal progressives, have accused me of being “political” and even “hypocritical.” I have never been a political person, but for the first time since I could vote, I see this election as so much more than politics. America, the only country founded on the freedom of religion, now has a platform called “progressive liberals” who are trying to remove God from our country. The only thing progressive about the Democratic agenda is they’re progressively moving our great country towards Satan and away from God. Towards hell . . . away from heaven. Towards evil . . . away from good. We are becoming a country where immorality reigns and is legalized, and those believing in morality and the Bible are penalized and punished.

The church watched government gradually and successfully infringe on our religious and moral rights…and did nothing. The Supreme Court legalized abortion. The Supreme Court took prayer and God out of schools. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. These are not political issues…these are moral issues. How have we let what God deemed wrong be deemed right? Why didn’t we put up a bigger fight?

As Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall (Ezekiel. 22:30), said to the group of evangelical leaders he met with when he decided to run for president: “If you don’t mind me saying so, YOU GUYS HAVE GONE SOFT.” He’s right. Dr. Lance Wallnau in his book God’s Chaos Candidate:Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling, which I encourage you to order and read quickly BEFORE November 8, wrote, “Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”

Trump is the first political candidate I’ve ever heard say boldly without hesitation, as he did in the third debate, that he is against abortion, late-term abortion is horrific, and he would appoint conservative Supreme Court judges who would try to overturn Roe vs Wade. Every other candidate, even the evangelicals, have always danced around the topic of abortion wanting to get everyone’s votes.

“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. The field is the world, and the good see stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one. ” (Matthew 13:25, 38)

Be Bold for Christ While We Still Can

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

In Forsaken God?, I wrote about the need for Christians to be bold for Christ, long before there was an election or any indication of who the candidates would be:

“Can you imagine the revival if Christians actively influenced the culture to remember God? My challenge to you is together let’s start a bold and brave movement to create a God-centered culture that remembers the magnificent goodness of our great God in our homes, communities, and churches.

Being Bold About Your Faith

We live in a culture where vocal minority factions lobby to remove God from every public place, ceremony, and conversation. They reject God’s ways, which can only mean accepting Satan’s ways. There is no in-between—support God’s ways or Satan’s ways … the secular world’s ways. The two will never meet or overlap—no straddling the fence between two polar opposites.

Christians, the silent majority for years in America, are watching our majority-ranking decline due to passive apathy. Letting a lost world lose God! Read the Gospels, Jesus wasn’t silent or passive and he confronted sin and Satan! It’s long past time for Christians to get noisy about the only right way—God’s way. People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God.

Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12). Today’s culture calls it unloving to confront untruths or lies, but that’s a ploy of the enemy. The Bible says, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Nothing could be more loving than helping someone find eternal life and freedom from the bondage of sin. Love without truth is cowardly. Truth without love is powerless.

Who do you know who is trying to straddle the fence between the world’s ways and God’s ways, or walk too close to the edge of temptation? Where has God been nudging you to be brave and bold about your faith? It will require getting out of your comfort zone, but comfortable isn’t God’s way. You won’t be “politically correct,” but that wasn’t Jesus’ way.”*

Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

I am boldly supporting the conservative platform! Not for political reasons, but because we stand on the brink of the annihilation of conservatism and religious freedom in or country. Franklin Graham went to all 50 state Capitols to pray for our country and this election because he has 10 grandchildren directly impacted by the results, and he said if he died next year, he will know he tried to make a difference. I have 11 grandchildren and echo his heart. If you’re even considering voting for the progressive liberal platform, I have two thoughts for you to consider:

  1. You are siding with a group that has written on my Facebook timeline, the worse filthy, hateful, and vulgar language I have EVER seen or heard! Even as I’m writing this sentence, a “progressive” began posting terrible, vulgar, evil, awful things on a post about Mike Pence. I couldn’t delete the vulgarity fast enough, and had to block the person. This comes from both progressive men and women. If you don’t believe me…here’s one mild comment, the rest are far too vulgar… but it’s a window into what a vote for Hillary stands for and the progressive thinking. I simply asked, “What do you have in common with Hillary?”

“I am a progressive. I believe in a universal health care, I don’t believe in discrimination or segregation of any kind. I believe that all US citizens should be able to vote regardless if they are imprisoned or don’t have a Drivers License. I believe in Science and I believe that humans are destroying the planet, and it’s our duty to protect it. I believe that woman have a choice but after birth you need to protect society from deadly diseases. I believe that the top 1% have been given a free ride since Regan silently paved the road to destroy middle class. I believe the education is more important than anyone’s right to own assault weapons. I believe that Obama will arguably be one the best Presidents in history and I do believe that if you feel differently, then you’re a person that hates Gays, Color, or any nonwhite religious person. And that Hillary represents more of what the last 8 years, which is the only choice.”

  1. Hugh Hewitt who has taught Conservative Law for 20 years, says in God’s Chaos Candidate:

“If Hillary Clinton wins, the Left gavels in a solid, lasting almost certainly permanent majority on the Supreme Court. Every political issue has a theoretical path to SCOTUS, and only self-imposed judicial restraint has checked the Supreme Court’s appetite and reach for two centuries.

That restraint will be gone when Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first appointee is sworn in. Finished. This is not hyperbole…I know what a very liberal Supreme Court means: Conservatism is done. It cannot survive a strong –willed liberal majority on the Supreme Court. Every issue—EVERY—issue—will end up there, and the legislature’s judgments will matter not a bit.”

Your Children Need to Hear the Truth Boldly from You

“Living counter-cultural isn’t easy and many children succumb to believing a fake gospel that seems easier and less confrontational. No one likes being the brunt of harassing name-calling: intolerant, homophobic, old-fashioned, legalistic, or rigid. Even conservative is spewed with disdain. These kids are afraid to offend someone by talking about God or worry they won’t have an answer when challenged as to why they’re Christians.

It’s no wonder they’re confused and apprehensive. Satan is hijacking high-profile liberal pastors and several mainline denominations who expound that: the Bible isn’t inerrant or relevant, God is a myth, Jesus is a legend, and the church needs to catch up with the culture. Essentially, they’re atheists trying to mask themselves as “progressive Christians,” as if they’ve discovered the true, open-minded Christianity that doesn’t need the Bible. Wolves in sheep’s clothing—straight out of Titus 1:15-16. Culture never trumps Scripture. Even if you’ve been a member for years of one of these denominations or churches that now succumbs to this unbiblical, satanical teaching—run—leave immediately, and take your family with you.

The “liberals” defiantly ignore Jesus’ warning that Christians are in the world, but not of the world. And Jesus didn’t come to conform to the culture; he came to reform the culture. Jesus loves all people, but he hates sin—that’s why he went to the cross. Not so we could keep on sinning, but because, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Whoever doesn’t believe these truths cannot claim the cherished name of Christian.”*

Depending on the results November 8, and the choices we make as a country, we could have a massive revival, or we could reap what we’ve let Satan sew in our country while we slept and let our walls fall as a nation. We could admit, “Yes, we’ve forsaken God, but we’ll stand in the gap and turn our country back to God.” Or God could say, you had your chance and “There will be no more delay!” (Rev. 10:6).

*Excerpts from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten available from Amazon or signed on our website.

I highly recommend quickly ordering God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and The American Unraveling by Dr. Lance Wallnau. You can read the first chapter for free at www.GODSCHAOSCANDIDATE.com

gods-chaos-candidate

We are still offering a special price until the end of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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Life Without A Bucket List

October Ushers in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This month marks fourteen years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, October 2002. I’d like to say that I had surgery, radiation, took Tamoxifen for five years, and that was the end of it. But that’s not how my story goes. I was diagnosed with a recurrence in October 2008, and again in June 2011 right after we moved to Idaho, and this summer I had a MRI-driven needle biopsy–praise God it was benign. I don’t know why. I only know that God is not through with me yet, and that is why I write, and that is why I speak, and that is why I evangelize and try to mobilize the Christian community to take a stand for Christ and give purpose and meaning to the years the Lord has spared me.

breast-cancer-cover3-252x300

I wrote, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey after my first diagnosis. It was the book I wished I had going through the battle myself and many women tell me it’s as if the Lord and I are walking right beside them.

Gloria Gaddy, who shares her story in the book, recently wrote to me:

10 Years ago I purchased this book, read it like my Bible, slept with it and prayed every day that God would heal me, He DID !  Now I am breast cancer free no more chemo meds and doing very well.  I might have to pick my book up just to remember how it brought me over.  Every time  someone is attacked with cancer it’s another opportunity for God to show up.

As a gift to my breast cancer sisters, and to any of you who have friends or family with breast cancer, we’re offering a special price for the month of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop, and I personalize and sign each book.

You might also find this excerpt from the book helpful for knowing what to say and what not to say to a woman fighting the breast cancer battle. The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Life Without a Bucket List

Kara Tippetts was a young mother who lost the breast cancer battle, but starting with her diagnosis she wrote openly about her journey in a blog. Now, a year after her passing in March 2015, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye brings a collection of Tippetts’ insights, taken mostly from her popular blog. Great care has been taken by David C Cook’s editorial team to present her thoughts with as few changes as possible in order to capture her distinct voice and unique way of arranging words.
      I thought it would be too hard for me to read And It Was Beautiful, but I couldn’t put it down and got permission from David C Cook to share her chapter on “Choosing a Mentor” in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons.
      In this post, I’m sharing with you the excerpt, “Life Without a Bucket List.” Like Kara, I consider every day of life a fulfilled bucket list, and as I lay my head on the pillow each night my husband Dave prays, “Thank you Lord for another day of life. We don’t take that for granted.”

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I can confidently say that I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms. But beyond that I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness. I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next. Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me ten kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it. A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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Remember the special October price for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide For Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God. Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

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Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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Why Don’t We Ask for Prayer?

I'm not lucky                                            And How Many People Have Prayed For Me!

The day before my mammogram last week, I realized I hadn’t asked anyone to pray for a good result. This wasn’t just a routine mammogram. I’ve had breast cancer three times in 13 years, so I have a MRI or mammogram every six months, and there have been times when it was every three months. It’s been four years since a mammogram showed cancer, so why was I feeling apprehensive?

What Stops Us Asking for Prayer?

Maybe it was because I have a new book releasing in February that I know Satan is not happy about—Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. We were under such spiritual attack while I was writing it, what would Satan do next to try and stop me from sharing the message of this timely book?

Maybe after so many mammograms and MRI’s over the past thirteen years, I thought surely, people had tired of praying for these tests. After all, I had been cancer-free for four years. How could I ask . . . again . . . when there was no reason to expect the test not to turn out fine?

Maybe I feared that no one would pray.

Maybe I knew so many people who needed prayer more than I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to draw attention to a health weakness.

Maybe I dreaded the question of why I chose the type of treatment I did. That question plants doubts, instead of comfort.

It’s a Privilege to Pray for Each Other

But in the back of my mind was the nagging thought: I was cancer-free for six years before the second recurrence, and only two years between the second and third round with this dreaded disease. So time passing isn’t reassuring to me.

I wrestled all day with whether or not to ask for prayer. I kept dismissing the thought and then the Holy Spirit would prompt me again. That made me wonder, even more, why was the Holy Spirit so persistent that I ask for prayer? What did He know, that I didn’t know?

Finally, at 10:00 that night, I put this prayer request on Facebook and got ready for bed:

I’m having my 6 mo. diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit all day about His prompting me to ask my peeps for prayer for a continued “all clear.” So here I am again….asking you to pray with me that it’s the Lord’s will that I will remain cancer-free. Thank you dear ones who see this. Appointment at 10:30 am MT.

By the time I turned out the light, thirteen night owl Facebook friends had posted that they were praying. Wow! I slept peacefully.

The next morning, 180 “likes” on my prayer request post and over 70 friends had left a message that they were praying for me. Here were some of the comments:

Praying for you, Janet. Never be afraid of asking for prayer from others.

God will bring you reinforcements when you need them.

Don’t wrestle! Just ask! Praying!

God never tires of our repeated requests. May you sense His presence with you.

Don’t know why you wrestled so much, that’s why you have friends in the Body of Christ for support and encouragement. Of course, I will pray NOW!

Thank you for sharing because I would love to ask the Lord for “the all clear”

That’s the reason I’m on Facebook . . . to pray for others.

Yes, people actually thanked me for asking for prayer and giving them the privilege of praying for me! I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, caring, concern, and prayer flooding the Holy of Holies on my behalf.

Some FB friends were praying who I don’t know personally, be we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Looking back, I realize I wasn’t only wrestling with the Holy Spirit. There was a spiritual warfare going on. Yes, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask for prayer, but Satan was provoking me with all the reasons I shouldn’t ask for prayer. That battle went on in my head and heart all day long, but praise God, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

I knew that I had done the Lord’s bidding when I was scrolling down Facebook “home” on my phone as we headed the hour and a half to town for the test during a terrible rain and windstorm. I came across a friend who hadn’t read my prayer request, but her post that day was simply Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I kept that verse on my phone screen all the way to the mammogram, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit’s way of confirming I had won the spiritual battle. The prayers kept pouring in on my phone and I was at peace. I don’t know how the test would have turned out had my friends not flooded the heavens. Did that change the outcome of the test? I won’t know that until I get to heaven, but what I do know is that I will never hesitate to ask for prayers again, and I hope you won’t either.

When the test turned out “all clear,” I posted this message to all my praying faithful’s:

A BIG cyber hug of gratefulness for the many many many peeps who prayed last night and today for my 6 mo. mammogram and ultrasound. If you didn’t see my message on the post…ALL CLEAR and I didn’t have to have the ultrasound.

As many of you know, I’m a 3x breast cancer survivor, the latest 4 yrs ago, so I have of a mammo or MRI every 6 months for the past 13 yrs, and usually it’s no big deal, but this one did seem big. So I can’t stop thanking God and all of you for petitioning Him for me.

You are all amazing and I pray I’m half the friend to you that you are to me. Please let me pray for you sometime too!

PS I celebrated by going wild at my hair appt!!! I have lots of fun red highlights:) Merry Christmas dear friends.

The praises and “likes” for that message started pouring in and filled my heart with gladness and joy!

When I call on JesusSpiritual Inspirations

Asking for Prayer is a Testimony and a Witness

Someone needed to see the body of Christ respond to my public prayer request. It wasn’t just me who needed confirmation that prayer warriors never tire of praying.

Maybe it was you with an “unspoken” prayer request you need to share with someone.

Maybe it was the many who read my Facebook posts and saw the outpouring of prayers.

Maybe it’s someone reading this article.

Only God knows for sure, but often we have not because we ask not. We’re so sure that things are forgone conclusions, that we don’t bother God with prayer…or “bother” our friends.

My dear friends, many of you have prayer requests, right now! Especially at this time of year. Won’t you share them here so I can pray with you and anyone who is reading this blog can lift your request to the most High.

Three times in thirteen years, we prayed the tests would not reveal breast cancer, but three times, they did. But 35+ times we’ve prayed for those same tests, and it was an “all clear.” I’ll take those odds to my knees any day . . . how about you?

Side Note:

I wrote Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, while recovering from my first occurrence, I had to write a difficult chapter: “It Could Come Back.” Here’s some of what I wrote when I had no idea that, indeed, cancer would return two more times:

Dear God,

Would everybody be there for me again or be burned out on breast cancer and not able to deal with it anymore? Oh Lord, I cannot imagine how lonely that would be. It was so hard the first time; it must be devastating to relive it. In many ways, cancer is like living with a time bomb. You don’t know if it is defused or if it’s ticking away, ready to catch you off guard and blow your life apart again . . . maybe this time actually taking you to a place of no return. I have to admit these thoughts go through my mind at random times.

Lord, I must put my complete faith and trust in You. I will do everything the doctors tell me to do when they tell me to do it . . . no playing games with this . . . and I pray You continue to protect me and restore me to complete health. However, if there should be a recurrence, I also pray my family and friends would rally back around me, and You would give the doctors the same wisdom and insight You did the first time. Let them catch it early again—breast cancer will not win the battle for my life. Confidently Yours, Janet*

God has answered that prayer through two recurrences, and so I encourage you to ask for prayer and keep on praying for those you know in need of prayer.

*Excerpt from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer

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Someone You Know Has Breast Cancer

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

“I’m sorry…but you do have breast cancer.”

Those shocking words crackling through my cell phone rocked my world thirteen years ago. I was running errands…trying to outrun suspected bad news. After the doctor’s parting words, “You’ll be fine,” I fired up the car engine and started driving and dialing. The first person I called, after I told my husband, was my best friend, but she couldn’t comprehend the diagnosis. “A positive biopsy doesn’t mean it’s malignant, does it?” she asked.

It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer. Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat. Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us to, “Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? What does it truly mean to help each other in troubles and problems? Perhaps you can glean some ideas from the ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I pray that God will make you aware of the women around you with breast cancer and that you’re getting regular exams yourself!

Helping with the Bad Days

Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible

Most of us find it difficult to receive help; we’re hesitant to impose on others. When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything, but we don’t know if the person is offering to mop our floors or pick up our kids from school—both of which we need, but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well? Again, we don’t know what the person is willing to do for us, and we don’t want to be a burden.

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. If you know your friend well, you know where she needs help; and even if you don’t know her well, you know where all women need help. If she is in the midst of cancer treatment, she is going to need assistance with every area of her life, especially if she is single. Here are some practical ideas:

  1. Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  2. Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  3. Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  4. Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  5. Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  6. Do her laundry.
  7. Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  8. Answer her email.
  9. Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  10. If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  11. Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  12. Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  13. Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  14. Pick up prescriptions.
  15. Run errands.

Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It

At church a couple came up to greet my husband and me and asked if they could pray for us. That meant so much to me as we wrapped our arms around each other, and there on the church patio, this precious couple prayed for my recovery and Dave’s strength for the journey. When we finished, the wife asked where we needed help. I hesitated because I knew this woman didn’t like to cook, but Dave quickly interjected, “We could use a meal.” She didn’t flinch. She said they would be over the next night with dinner, and they were…and they prayed for us again.

“I’ll pray for you” is said too often with the casualness of “Have a nice day.” But a promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping to Enjoy the Good Days

Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. There is very little laughter during those first shocking days following the “dreaded diagnosis.” But life continues and there are going to be good days interspersed with the bad. An insightful friend will capitalize on the moments of reprieve when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

If your friend is having an especially good day, avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don’t fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Smile. Laugh. Be happy. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

I remember laughing at myself one day in the shower when I realized that I was so carefully not shaving under my left arm because of the lymph node surgery, that I also wasn’t shaving my left leg. I frequently retold that story so people could laugh with me.

Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her

When I was in the hospital, the nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed. For six months, I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. In fact, they acted like it was normal. And I discovered when I was writing my book, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, that it was normal! One woman who shared her story in the book had a black stuffed sheep named “Lamby” that she cuddled in her hospital bed. Another received a baby-sized pillow, and she recalls, “That pillow became a part of my wardrobe for eighteen months.”

stuffed sheet

Comfort and Security Gifts

  • A stuffed animal, pillow, or quilt.
  • A favorite food.
  • A game she loves to play and play it with her.
  • A movie she loved as a kid and watch it with her.
  • A surprise reunion with childhood friends.
  • A tea party.
  • A fun hat—even if she hasn’t lost her hair, she might not feel like fixing her hair.
  • A new nightgown that buttons down the front.
  • An ice cream cone.
  • A nightlight
  • A copy of  Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer a Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey signed by me to her. Many women tell me it’s as if I’m walking right beside them.

Shower Her with Love

Kay Warren shared with me about her breast cancer experience, “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult time without the outpouring of love and support from so many. I have not felt alone at all…which is such an amazing gift!” And that it is…love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us. God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs, and He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us? We were in the midst of a messy kitchen remodel when breast cancer assaulted me. Everything in my life seemed out of control. But I felt so loved the day I returned home after the painful needle biopsy and spotted amongst the rubble—gift bags full of treats with balloons attached and a card from two girlfriends assuring me they had been praying during the ordeal.

Ideas For Showering Your Breast Cancer Friend With Love

  • A Spa day at a salon, which treats women with breast cancer.
  • If she wears a hat or scarf, wear one too.
  • Tell her how much you love her and what a great friend she is.
  • Stick with her even when the treatment lingers on. Her biggest fear is that others will not endure the journey.
  • Include her in as many activities as she feels up to.
  • Go to a breast-cancer support group with her.
  • Plan a girls’ day or night out, when she feels up to it.
  • Sit and watch old movies with her—even if she falls asleep.
  • Do her makeup.
  • Pray for and with her.

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17 that “A friend loves at all times.” What a privilege it is to put that verse into practice for your precious friend with breast cancer. You probably won’t be able to do everything I suggest and I hope you have ideas of your own, but as a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and the bad times—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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90 Days to a Physical Renewal

 

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

It’s the last Monday of the month so today is another article in our Love Your Body Sereis. Our guest blogger today is Debbie Alsdorf, a dear friend, and fellow author, speaker, and breast cancer survivor. When I saw on Facebook that Debbie had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I sent her my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Debbie used my book as a devotional every morning and she said it was as if I was walking through her journey with her, which was my vision for this book.

Then I started to reading about Debbie’s amazing diet changes that she’s been sharing with all her Facebook followers. All her changes were the things I’ve been writing about in the Love Your Body series and try to get women and men to embrace in their daily lives. I thought you would be doubly inspired to hear from a woman who has put healthy eating and exercise into practice by tossing out all the old excuses and surrendering her body to God—loving her body like God loves it. Enjoy and please leave a comment and let Debbie and me know how her sharing has helped and inspired you to also Love Your Body.

 My Wake-up Call

By Debbie Alsdorf

Let the weak say “ I am strong.” Joel 3:10 AMP

Three months ago, my cupboard shelves were filled with the latest diet products—nutrition bars, snack packs, and 90-calorie “this-and-that.” Despite having a pantry filled with diet foods, I’ve been a consistent 40 pounds overweight for many years. As I’ve gotten older, the weight has clung to me. Nothing I did seemed to budge the pudge, as my appetite for sweets, comfort, and junk foods kept growing stronger. Each day brought fatigue and frustration. I saw no end in sight.

Then in the middle of yet another “diet plan,” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a wake-up call. The shock was enough to make me lose my appetite for a few weeks, but after the shock wore off, discouragement set in. Though my instruction was to exercise and lose any excess weight for optimal health and to reduce the chance of a reoccurrence, I couldn’t bring myself to do either. After surgery and six weeks of daily radiation treatments, I began to take a cancer-preventive drug that had side effects: hot flashes, bone pain, fatigue, nausea and weight gain. Ugh! Worse yet, I was to take this drug for five years. Discouragement seems to call for comfort foods, and in the blink-of-an-eye, I added ten pounds to my already overweight frame.

When the symptoms began to get ridiculous, my oncologist had me stop the drug. I apparently was not a candidate for this normal protocol. My only hope would be to take care of my body through nutrition, proper rest, and physical exercise. Easier said than done! I had never been able to do it in the past, so what made me think I could now?

The 90 Day Challenge

A doctor suggested I try a strict protocol of no sugar, no dairy, and no grain for 90 days. These foods cause inflammation—fuel for any disease. This strict protocol also would help insulin resistance and the liver problems I had been plagued with for years.

 

My initial thought was no way! I didn’t want to be that weird girl who couldn’t eat what everyone else could eat, and I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable. I travel a lot for speaking and often eat whatever the venue is serving. I am in airports, long car rides . . . I kept thinking of all the excuses that would keep me from taking care of me.

 

Truth was, I just didn’t want to change because I had little faith that I really could change. I didn’t want to give up anything I liked, even if it was hurting me. But, I knew without a doubt, it was time to take care of myself. Thus began the journey of 90 days to freedom from the bondage of all my comfort foods. I have to be honest, the first two weeks were terrible. I experienced withdrawals and that was a wake-up call in itself. What drug was I withdrawing from? Sugars and grains.

From the Inside Out

            He satisfies my mouth with good things, so my youth is renewed...” Psalm 103:5 NKJV

A week ago, I completed the 90 day protocol. I have no desire to add back into my diet the desserts and snacks that were my old best friends. Not only do I feel better, but after 90 days, my blood work returned to normal. All levels have improved dramatically, and I am no longer fatigued or frustrated. Instead, I am sleeping well, waking up energized, no longer napping every day, lost 6 inches off my waistline, and am now 28 pounds lighter!

What Plan Did I Follow?

I didn’t follow a “plan.” No gimmicks, no diet foods, and no anxiety over weight loss. Instead, I concentrated on eating nutritious, whole foods. Some call this “eating clean” or paleo; but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own personal way of eating that I believe God helped me discover. Rather than thinking of all I couldn’t eat, I chose to focus on what I could eat. I began filling up my plate with lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a few fruits.

 

You may have noticed that processed foods were not on my list. What I never knew is that my love for sugars, carbs, and processed foods aided the development of a fatty liver, which caused me all kinds of problems. Besides cancer, I was on a slippery slope as fatty liver can develop into cirrhosis, and cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer. With the change in diet, my liver went back to normal!

My New Normal

My first mother’s day after cancer brought the joy of being alive. My children bought me a NutriBullet, and that is when things went into high gear. Now I was juicing delicious veggie and fruit smoothies every day. Spinach, kale, chard, chia seeds, almond milk, and half a frozen banana. I was also advised to give up all artificial sweeteners, so I added a little stevia to taste and said good-bye to diet soft drinks. I can’t explain what these vegetables have done for me . . . there are no words. Suffice it to say, I have not felt this good for at least twenty years!

This new eating journey takes a little more work up front. I prepare and plan a bit more than I did before. I read restaurant menus a little longer and choose what is good for me ,not what I feel like having in the moment. I carry healthy snacks and water and find it a small inconvenience in comparison with how great I feel.

Walking My Way to Wellness

Once I started getting used to no sugar, grain or dairy, I knew it was time to start getting physical. I put my Fitbit on one day just to get a baseline of my normal daily steps. Pathetically, 1078 steps by 5 pm! 10,000 is the suggested steps we all should strive for each day. I had my work cut out for me. I was lazy from being so inactive. I had zero motivation and never even went to the health club where I had a membership. Every cancer support group touted exercise as the magic bullet to renewed health, so I realized I had to make more changes.

Things have changed. No longer lazy and inactive, I now look for ways to move my body and schedule exercise into my schedule six days a week. This morning, I was up walking with my friend at 6:30 am. We walk about 4 miles or 8,000 steps. At dinnertime, I was at 17,000 steps! Quite a change. I must say that at first, it felt like someone was coming over and putting a leash on me to drag me out for a walk. I went along with it—I didn’t like it— but I knew I had to do something. Just like the first few weeks of no sugar was hard, the first few weeks of exercise were just as hard. Over time, I have come to look forward to walking every bit as much as I look forward to my morning shake.

 You Can Change

Did you know that you can change? Our habits and comforts don’t have to rule us any longer. When we yield our bodies and our food issues to God, He begins the work in us. Yielding doesn’t mean we do nothing. Once I knew I needed to change, I began to ask Jesus for the grace to succeed. Every day I thanked Him that I would get to my goal weight. I didn’t have a date in mind; I just knew it had to happen. I took 90 days, one day at a time. Some days I went to bed pretty hungry and other days I forgot to eat when I should have eaten. Food was slowly losing its power over me. I am still not at my goal weight. I have about 15 pounds to go, but I am now living this new lifestyle one day at a time.

 

Since the 90 days are over, I am carefully adding in foods one at a time. I have no plans to add back in the junk, just good wholesome things. Each day, I still pray the same thing,

“Dear Lord give me the grace and strength to make it to my health goals. Guide me today into what is right for my individual body. Thank you that I will reach my goal because I have prayed to you for the grace to make it and the strength to see the new path before me”

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

I received the following guidelines after my breast cancer diagnosis:

  •   Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  •   Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily
  •   Avoid sugary drinks and foods
  •   Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits
  •   Avoid processed foods and meats
  •   Use meat as a condiment and focus on vegetables
  •  After cancer treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention. Following these recommendations could help prevent at least 1/3 of all cancers.

Physical and Spiritual Renewal

I’m on a path of discovering that walking with God is a sacred journey that encompasses every area of our lives. I no longer dread the scale and I am not looking for the latest and greatest diet. I am eating when I am hungry and filling up with good things. It is wonderful to begin taking care of me after years of neglect. I love God, am a Christian author and Bible study teacher, but the one area I previously refused to look at was the discipline of surrendering my body to its Maker. I am grateful for the gift I found in the middle of a cancer diagnosis. It was a wake-up call that awakened my soul to fresh surrender and my body to renewed health.

 

My Morning Green Shake

green shake

4 ice cubes

1 Cup Almond Milk

4-5 frozen Mango Chunks

½ banana

2 handfuls (2 cups) of power greens (spinach, kale, chard)

1 T. Chia Seed

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (sweetened with Stevia)

(This is Janet speaking, if you’ve had breast cancer be sure to check the label of any protein powders to be sure they don’t contain soy. Most do.)

Stevia to taste              You can use other fruits, this is my favorite.

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

 

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf has been a women’s ministry leader for over 25 years. She is an Amazon bestselling author, international speaker, and the founder of Design4Living Ministries. Affectionately known as a cheerleader of hope, Debbie holds out God’s Word to women with compassion and application. Her messages are real and a mix of wit, humor, and biblical truth. Her life’s work is to encourage women to embrace God’s love for them and learn to live in the life changing realities of God’s Word in the practical places of everyday life.

She is the author of twelve books, A Woman Who Trusts God, A Different Kind of WildDeeper, The Faith Dare (Revell) and The Design 4 Living Bible Study Series (David C. Cook).

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Lessons From A Life Well Lived

Jan Holsclaws celebration sunriseSunrise from Jan and Jim’s backyard the day we celebrated Jan’s commencement to her Heavenly home!

I met Jan Holsclaw when she and husband Jim were speaking at Idyllwild Bible Church. Dave and I have a cabin in Idyllwild and were at IBC the same weekend the Holsclaws were visiting. At that time, Jim and Jan worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators and they were giving a report to IBC who helped support their ministry.

Jan spoke of her battle with ovarian cancer that was in remission. After the service, I introduced myself to Jan as a fellow cancer survivor and gave her a copy of my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer. Jan and Jim live in Florida, so an email friendship developed over the miles. Jan often referred to our “chance” meeting as a divine appointment.

A Team of Rope Holders

Sadly, it wasn’t long after we met that Jan’s cancer returned and she was in for the battle of her life . . . for her life. Jan and Jim started email updates to a team of friends and family they called their “rope holders” from the story in Mark 2:3-5 and Luke 5:18-20 where friends tied ropes to a mat and lowered a paralytic man through the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching. Loving friends displaying their faith in Jesus—that’s what Jan’s rope holders were to her too.

So over the next few years, Jan and Jim sent the rope holders email updates of Jan’s journey through extensive and ongoing chemo and treatments, and we lifted Jan and Jim before the Lord. We prayed for their specific requests and rejoiced in their good days and praises.

The doctors told them to do all the things they wanted to do and see family as much as possible. Use the time they had wisely, and that’s just what they did. Jim retired from Wycliffe, and during Jan’s good times or breaks in treatment, they traveled to see their children and grandchildren spread throughout the United States and China.

Lesson: We need each other. Learn how to “receive” well. Life is precious. Live like you’re dying.

 

A Praise Journal in the Midst of Crisis

Jan started a “Thankful List” which she often shared with her rope holders. When I asked her about it, she said:

How does it encourage me? When I’m down or discouraged or sad or ‘tired of the cancer/chemo routine,’ if I start adding to my “thankful list” it doesn’t take long before my focus is no longer on “poor me,” but on the Lord and on how incredibly blessed I am. I can literally sense my spirit being lifted into His presence. It’s sort of like a 180 degree turn around. Absolutely amazing. Even when I think to myself… “I can’t think of ONE thing for which I’m thankful” . . . all I have to do is START WRITING, and then my mind is filled with TONS of things for which I’m thankful.

“I Will Trust You” was the subject line of a rope holders’ email on February 6, 2014, as Jan’s health was rapidly deteriorating. She continued to tell us how much our prayers and emails meant to her and Jim:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for your precious words that touch us so deeply, and often bring tears. You simply can’t know how much they mean, and how they minister to us…over and over and over again! We’re trying to keep our hearts focused on Him, reminding ourselves that whatever we find out, He is with us, He’s holding us close, we need not fear and we can trust Him. A song that has been SO meaningful to us in the last few days is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin.

Lesson: If your faith is a little shaky today, listen to praise music. Jan and Jim found comfort in the YOU TUBE version of Sovereign.

 

On February 7, 2014, Jan wrote to her rope holders—

The sobering part of it all, is that when I now return to a chemo that has worked in the past, there’s generally only a 20-30% chance that it will now be effective against the cancer.

Still Jan finds things to be thankful for—

I am SO THANKFUL for:

A good appetite. (And I don’t want to EVER take that for granted!)

Restful sleep at night.

My wonderful, godly doctor.

My amazing husband who cares for me 24/7.

Our precious kids, their spouses, and our grandkids.

God’s Sovereignty and His tender, loving care.

Our incredible team of rope holders (YOU) and your touching words of encouragement.

Lesson: If you’re going through a tough time, start a Thankful List. It’s hard to stay down when you’re looking up.

Jan with her therapy dog Wally Jon

February 24, 2014 Jan with her “therapy dog” Wally Jon

How to Live Well for Jesus and Die Well in Jesus

March 4, 2014 the rope holders received an email from son Jon, “Finally Free!” Saturday March 8, thanks to the technology of “Streamline,” I watched the Celebration of Jan’s Life. Jan didn’t want a sermon; she wanted casual dress, her favorite music, and a chance for everyone who wanted to share their memories at an open microphone.

We heard from friends, neighbors, hospital staff, fellow ministry servants, and her doctors. All had the same message: Jan showed us how to live well for Jesus and how to die well in Jesus. Here was some of her legacy shared at the celebration:

  • She showed us how to behave in suffering. Not to be inward focused but to reach out and let her rope holders know how much she needed them.
  • There was a width and breadth of ministry during her last seven years. Her mission: May God get the glory and win the day, every day.
  • She taught us how to be a gracious “receiver.” When she was well she gave, but when she was ill, she could receive our help.
  • Jan loved life and fought it through to the very end.
  • She loved her family so much and taught us how to be better wives, moms, and grandmothers.
  • Jan had faith and trust and gave thanks in all circumstances.
  • Jan and Jim didn’t just talk about the Lord, they lived out their faith.
  • From a hospital staff member: they were always encouraging to the hospital staff—even the lady cleaning the floors. They left their mark on the staff.
  • A neighbor who saw Jan and Jim walking hand in hand while she did her morning run soon was getting hugs and friendship from Jan.
  • Her doctors considered it a privilege to be in the presence of patients like Jim and Jan. They ministered to their doctors during the doctors’ tough times and struggles.
  • Jan taught us how to die.
Lesson: How we live our life in good times and hard times is a ministry—it’s our legacy.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (NLT)

Jan and Jim 48 year anniversary

Jan and Jim on their 48th Anniversary August 2013

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You Are Priceless

This is the last Monday in October—a month in which I’ve been focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness Month in my Monday Morning Blog. Today, I invited Julie Coleman, author of Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women, to share with us. As Julie jokingly talks about her cosmetic makeover, I was reminded of the free “Look Good . . . Feel Better” makeover I had at my radiation oncologist’s office. Most of us don’t feel very beautiful going through breast cancer treatment and it was so nice to have a professional give us a makeover, lunch, and free samples.

But Julie reminds all of us, healthy and not so healthy, that we are all precious in Jesus’ sight and He gives us our self-worth, value, and confidence, not our reflection in the mirror. Enjoy Julie’s post today—

 angie photo shoot2

I am no diva.

My daughter would roll her eyes at this statement and say, “No kidding!” Before every speaking event, Melanie insists on approving my outfit. She is afraid to let me leave the house without fashion supervision. “Put on some mascara,” she urges. “Lipstick will make you appear more professional.” I sigh and try to be obedient to her fashion sense, since I have none of my own.

On a shopping trip in Chicago with my cousins a few years back, we wandered into a chic makeup boutique. Noting the glamorous women browsing the store, I knew right away I didn’t belong there. But as I tried to inconspicuously peruse the aisles (so as not to embarrass my cousins), a makeup artist swept over. It was like I had a bull’s-eye painted on my forehead. She wanted to give me a makeover. I tried to explain that makeup wasn’t really a huge part of my daily routine. A face like mine would be a waste of her time. She insisted.

I felt sorry for her. She seemed so nice and sincere, so desperate to please. So I put myself into her hands.

The woman worked wonders. My eyes looked brighter and my face younger. I wrote down every product she used to perform her magic. Then I went shopping.

Please note: previously, the most sophisticated cosmetic purchase I had ever made was at the drugstore. So as I shopped, I didn’t think to look at prices. How expensive could eye shadow be? If only I knew.

Eventually I found myself in line with my little basket of purchases, again noticing the beautiful, stylish women now in line all around me. Obviously if you cared about your appearance, you bought your makeup in this place. Pretending to be a regular customer, I nonchalantly stepped up to the counter.

The young beauty behind the counter rang up my purchases. “Good news,” she enthused. “You have spent over $150! That entitles you to a special gift!” One hundred fifty dollars?? For blush and powder? I almost passed out. Excruciatingly aware of the Beautiful People surrounding me in line, I gulped and handed over my credit card, trying to look casual, as if this was a routine purchase for a diva like me. My hand was shaking. I thought I might possibly throw up, right there in front of this bunch of super models. How would I explain this to my husband?
My cousins and I left the store together. I was still shaken. “I j-just spent $150 on eye shadow,” I stammered. “Those people think a lot of their makeup.”

In the real estate market, a home’s value is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. Similarly, the boutique’s confidence in their product was demonstrated by the cost they assigned to it. Apparently, I validated their assumption, since I willingly paid their price. The signature on my credit card slip indicated this makeup was indeed worth $150. At least to me. Apparently.

We can say the same for our own worth, according to Scripture. Our value has been determined by the price God was willing to pay for us.

“You were redeemed…with precious blood…the blood of Christ” (2 Peter 1:18-19).

 

Julie's book cover

 

Author and speaker Julie Coleman dedicates herself to helping others understand and know an unexpected God. Her new book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was recently released by Thomas Nelson. Julie and her husband live in Annapolis, MD. You can find her blog at unexpectedgod.com.

NOTE:  This is the last week of our doubly reduced price of Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A perfect gift for a friend or for yourself.

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